Jan van Eyk, Annie Leibovitz's Willie Nelson & A MuseTuesday, April 22, 2014
Inspiration and a muse are closely intertwined. In my most recent case it involved a muse, a 57 year-old free spirit, 15th century Flemish painter Jan van Eyck, a circular mirror in my muse’s bedroom and a withdrawn book (it cost me $1.50) a 2003 First Edition of Annie Leibovitz’s American Music. The book came from the stacks of the Vancouver Public Library’s Oakridge branch.
In Leibovitz’s beautiful book I was instantly drawn to her portrait of Willie Nelson. I have taken many very good profile portraits in my life but I have always lit from my subject’s face. It never occurred to me to do it in the opposite way.
During this Putin fiasco in Ukraine/Crimea several folk from the otherwise banal facebook have pointed out that Putin appears in many portraits by Flemish painters. In particular they cite Van Eyck’s portrait of the Arnolfini Marriage.
So when I showed up at my muse’s apartment today and saw her circular mirror in her bedroom I heard very loud bells of inspiration. They rang again when I saw the Mexican painting in her living room.
In my waning years of photography I find myself shifting back and fourth between my roots (natural light, often called available light) and my later years (mid 80s on) obsession with all sorts of artificial lighting. A big injection to this mixture has been my discovery (a bit on the late side as the film is discontinued but I have ten boxes which amount to 100 more possibilities) of Fuji FP-3000B instant b+w film which produces 7 inch by 7 inch prints on my Mamiya Rb-67 Pro-SD’s Polaroid back. The film is extremely fast (3200 ISO) and the prints are free of noticeable grain. In this age of the scanner, these prints reproduce quite nicely. But the excitement comes from the peel which for some years I threw away (how could I have been so densely stupid?). These peels as they dry (I help this along with a hair dryer) the peel manifests, quite randomly, a shift from negative to positive in different sections of the image. This looks like solarization but the correct term with negatives is the Sabbatier Effect.
I have been reserving my boxes of FP-3000B for special occasions and with special subjects. Nina my muse fits into that both ways.
|Willie Nelson - Annie Lebiovitz|
The two images of Nina you see here are:
1. A cropped (we wouldn’t want to show bits here, would we?) Fuji FP-3000B peel that once I scanned I reversed in Photoshop with some tinkering of the contrast. The colour is the colour of the slightly blue negative peel which shifts into the magenta upon reversal.
2. A cropped (cropped for the reason cited above) print of Fuji’s (still being made) 100 ISO FP-100C colour instant film. Note that I used the Leibovitz lighting technique.
In the next few days I will be processing:
1. 10 images on one roll of b+w Ilford FP-4 Plus in 120 in which I used my Mamiya RB-67 Pro SD with lights and with available light.
2. 15 images of a roll of Kodak T-Max 400 pushed to 400 which I took with my Leica III-F. I shot some with flash as this was the first Leica with a PC connection so that I could mate it with my portable studio flash.
3. 15 images with my Nikon FM-2 loaded with Fuji Superia 800 ISO colour negative film.
4. About 20 images shot with my Fuji X-E1 digital camera.